27 February, 2003
Antarctic Fire Department
I was thrilled to have a chance to meet some of the Antarctic Fire Department while here on the ice, especially Eric who was kind enough to trade department patches with me. Before I left home, Don Hussey of the Rockland Fire Dept. offered to give me a sweatshirt of our local fire department, but I explained that packing was very limited and weight restrictions were very tight. So I suggested that perhaps I could bring down a patch to Antarctica and that I would present it back to the Department upon my return. To be honest, I really had not thought about Antarctica having a fire department. Of course in hindsight, that was foolish. Not only is there a fire department, but their presence on the ice is critical. Pause to think about it... If a fire breaks out, where would people go? Resources are limited and a major fire could wipe out food supplies, shelters, equipment, or important research data, not to mention the obvious risk to lives.
The Antarctic Fire Department also plays an important role in monitoring the activities of individuals and groups on the ice. For example, if you want to go on a hike that will take you even a short distance away from McMurdo, the protocol is to report to the Fire Department where they record who you are traveling with, what time you plan to depart and what time you expect to return. You should also leave any details of where you plan travel to, how you plan to get there (walking, skiing, etc.) and any planned stops. The Department will provide a walkie-talkie for use if your plans change or in case of emergency. This is a very important part of safety on the Ice because weather and conditions can change rapidly. It is vital to have everyone accounted for and to provide assistance in returning people to safety if necessary.
The following pictures include Eric (trading patches), several firefighters who were kind enough to pose for photos, and some pictures back in Rockland when I presented the Antarctic Fire Department patch to Don Hussey of the RFD.
Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.